Lifestyle Blogger Vera Talks The Rolling Stones; The Band's Legacy, Charlie Watts & Concert Memories
"To watch men older than you, or your parents, or even your grandparents strut and strum on stage better than you or someone half or even a third of their age is flat out unmatched." - Vera
Vera, a very warm welcome to Fan Features! Thank-You so much for taking the time to speak with us and sharing your story. Before we begin would you kindly introduce yourself to our readers?
Greetings! My name is Vera Didenko. I'm 40-years old from Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and I use they/them pronouns. My blog, called "Vera This, Vera That," is about my random adventures in the life autistic.
Today we’ll be discussing the Rolling Stones and hearing more about the role they’ve played in your life over the years. How did your journey with the band begin?
So my journey of becoming this big time Rolling Stones fan began with this proverbial roadmap of musicians and singers I grew up idolizing as a tween.
I started off listening to Bryan Adams, who had this huge hit song back in the early 1990s. I would listen to only one radio station in town because they played the most Bryan Adams songs. During this time, the radio station also played songs by Rod Stewart, and I began gravitating towards his work. Rod Stewart put out an acoustic album around this time featuring his long time friend Ronnie Wood. From my research on Ronnie Wood, which at this point included expanding to listening to other radio stations in town, I discovered the music of the Rolling Stones. That day, February 2, 1994, was forever etched in my memory.
Let's venture back to the moment you first discovered the band...can you recall the first Rolling Stones song you actually heard?
The first Rolling Stones song I heard actually didn't have Ronnie Wood playing with them: it was the original recording of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" being played on the radio. This was after I did my homework on what had happened to Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood after their band, The Faces, broke up some twenty years prior. A few months after I discovered the Stones' music, they had an album drop, called "Voodoo Lounge." The music from that album spoke to me like no other music, not even from Bryan Adams or Rod Stewart. The music felt like I was being wrapped in a cozy blanket fresh from the dryer; keeping me warm and secure from the ills that surrounded me on a daily basis at the time.
And what was it about the band they really captured your heart? How would you describe the impact they've made in your life as a fan?
I believed in the music (and the personalities of the members of the band) so much, that I wanted the whole world to know about it. When I was inducted into my high school's National Honor Society, I wrote a small bio about my love for the band that was recited by one of the house principals in front of a general audience. At my prom, the live house band began to play "Satisfaction," and all the attendees looked right at me, knowing how much I loved the band. Through my working career, I would (unintentionally) annoy the living daylights out of my colleagues about random trivial tidbits about the group. On social media, people I reconnected with from high school were coming out as Stones fans, and had tagged me in their mentions whenever they were attending shows live. Even in becoming an adult bat mitzvah in 2019, I let it be known to yet another general audience about me being one of the biggest Rolling Stones fans in the entire world.
The Rolling Stones are one of the biggest bands of all time and have created a legacy that has changed music forever. Even today the guys have touched the lives of people across the world. There doesn’t seem to be a barrier when it comes to their music; it clearly speaks to everyone of all ages. Why do you think that IS? What is it about The Rolling Stones and their music that speaks to people on such a personal level and has ultimately created such a profound and ongoing legacy?
Because nothing was off limits with the band in terms of creativity, politics, or experiences, the Glimmer Twins (the moniker for Mick Jagger and Keith Richards) were able to convey whatever was on their minds into songs that spoke to whoever needed to hear it; the revolutionary who felt the need to fight for a decent living wage, a tale about a madam working the New Orleans red district during the 19th century, the disdain of a government leader over their decisions to go to war against a country unprovoked, and so on. Even the music itself is not just locked into one category; it could be blues, punk, country, hip-hop, acid rock, yacht rock, jazz, or even disco. Their message was a simple one: in order to be relevant, one must be willing to adapt to changes in its environment.
As a band, The Rolling Stones have lived through history; some might even say they helped create it. Looking back on their career, is there a moment that you’d class as the defining moment of The Rolling Stones?
I think when the Stones released "Steel Wheels" in 1989, the proverbial stage was set for the band we see today. Having them overcome the near schism between Jagger and Richards and the various solo projects in between that album and their 1986 album, "Dirty Work," the Stones solidified their immortality at that moment.
Let’s talk music…out of all their releases is there a song you'd class as a personal favourite?
Oh yikes, heh. I used to say, "it depends on what day it is," because I used to have a favorite song or two for each day of the week. Now, if there is one, just one song that defines my love for the Stones, it would be "Start Me Up" from their "Tattoo You" album. It's gritty, raw, full of double entendres, and pure unadulterated rock and roll, the way it ought to be.
Having had the chance to see the Stones perform live on three occasions must have been pretty incredible! What are your memories of those concerts?
My first concert was in 1997; and I was in the third row. The most magical moment for me was when I made eye contact (which is something I don't do very often for autistic reasons) with Mick Jagger during the first refrain to "Anybody Seen My Baby?" At that moment, it was literally the best thing I had ever experienced, better than my first kiss or my first straight A report card. The other two times I saw them were in 1999 and in 2002. Granted, I wasn't as close to the band literally as I was in 1997, but figuratively it felt like I was right at home with fellow Stones fans.
And how would you describe a typical Rolling Stones concert? What was it about them as live artists that stands out and receives such raving reviews from fans around the world?
Seeing the Rolling Stones live in concert is almost like completing a religious pilgrimage. The time and finances spent into preparation to become a spectator among fellow fans and experience a non-dogmatic state of joy is something you can't really get from an ordinary concert event. To watch men older than you, or your parents, or even your grandparents strut and strum on stage better than you or someone half or even a third of their age is flat out unmatched.
We recently lost the legendary Charlie Watts which is a huge loss to not only The Rolling Stones but the industry music as a whole. Being such a big fan of the band, I can only imagine this must have hit you hard?
The loss of Charlie Watts is unmeasurable. I was on my way home from running errands when I got a text from a Torah study classmate, who is also a huge Stones fan, saying "omg charlie watts". At first I was like, "what did Charlie do?" Then I went on Twitter and saw the news. I ripped a small tear into my shirt (a way of immediately mourning the loss of a loved one) and felt numb shortly thereafter. After all of these years, many people believed the Stones were about as immortal as they could get, regardless of age. However, there is a song that reminds us all, "Time Waits for No One."
I spent a number of hours reading through the tributes posted on social media by fans, celebrities and musicians alike and something about it really hit me hard. Charlie clearly made a huge impact in the lives of so many people…so I’m curious to ask, what are your personal memories of him?
In a rock outfit where each member had such a loud personality, Charlie's personality spoke volumes through his drums and his voiceless tonality. His actions spoke louder than any word he would ever utter. I was so impressed with Charlie when I started my Stones fandom journey, I created an email address on Yahoo! to honor him back in 1998 and kept it until 2012 (@charlie_watts). Since his passing, I renamed a Nosepass (a character in the mobile app game Pokémon GO) in my arsenal to "Charlie".
The aim of our website is to share the stories and highlight the impact of music in the lives of music fans around the world. It’s fair to say that the impact of The Rolling Stones in your life has been truly special and I cannot thank-you enough for taking the time to share this with our readers. So, as we approach the end of our interview, I wondered if you had a message for the band?
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my favorite band. To Mick, Keith, Woody, Shirley, Seraphina, Charlotte, and those that love them, may Charlie's memory forever and always be a blessing. R'fuah shleimah for our loss.
And finally…if you could recommend a song by The Rolling Stones to someone new to the band, what would it be?
For an album from start to finish, I would recommend "Black and Blue," "Some Girls," "Tattoo You," and "Voodoo Lounge".
There's no doubt about....The Rolling Stones are one of the most iconic bands to brace the music scene. Their legacy will live on through the ages as will their music that rocked the world. It's moments like the passing of Charlie Watts when we indeed are reminded that life is short and that the artists we admire won't always be here to create and perform the music we love so dearly. But through each song; each lyric, each beat and melody we are reminded of their genius and legacy.
I want to extended a huge thank-you to Vera for taking the time to help us celebrate the legacy of The Rolling Stones...it has been truly a pleasure to hear of Vera's sheer love for the band and how they have played a role in Vera's life.